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Art Beat: ‘Murder in a Small Town’ shoots at Molly’s Reach

Also, 'Joan Baez: I am a Noise' coming up for film society and dancers participate in Chilliwack Festival of Music and Dance
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Activist Joan Baez appears as herself in the upcoming documentary screening _Joan Baez: I am a Noise_ by the Sunshine Coast Film Society.

Production of the Fox network TV drama Murder in a Small Town, based on the Karl Alberg detective novels by L. R. Wright, began in January and has wrapped principal photography on its second episode. The nine-instalment series is filming on location in Gibsons with a cast and crew of over 100 people. 

According to executive producer Nick Orchard, episodes will be based on different novels in the Alberg series. The first two episodes, however, encompass only one volume: The Suspect, published by Wright in 1985. 

“The town seems to like us for the most part,” reflected Orchard after the first month of shooting. “I think what people don’t realize when they watch a television show or something, is just how many people it takes to get something done. It adds up.” 

The show stars Rossif Sutherland (son of legendary Canadian actor Donald Sutherland) and Kristin Kreuk. Kreuk was originally discovered by Ian Weir, head writer for Murder in a Small Town, while casting the CBC Television series Edgemont, which ran from 2000 to 2004. Kreuk then snagged the role of Lana Lang in the superhero franchise Smallville, which continued for 10 years and was filmed at locations around the Lower Mainland. 

For Orchard, the local production represents a homecoming of sorts, as he contributed to the original Beachcombers TV series and its spinoff movies. In fact, one of the recent Murder in a Small Town locations was the iconic Molly’s Reach diner, which was the homely headquarters for Beachcombers characters during its 19 seasons. 

“The fun thing is that we are calling it Molly’s Reach,” said Orchard. “We’re not pretending it’s anything else but Molly’s Reach.” 

Although Wright’s novels are set in Sechelt, the TV series has established Gibsons as its primary setting. Filming is due to continue until mid-May. 

A crowning role for King 

Solo actress Amy King debuted her touring production of Gracie, by Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod, with three performances at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons on Feb. 16, 17 and 18. The one-woman play portrays the experience of a young girl in a fundamentalist community based on real-life events in Bountiful, B.C. 

King’s astonishing depiction of child exploitation in a community riven by plural marriage elicited tears from audience members during the Saturday performance. King’s performance traveled vast emotional scope, including Gracie’s youthful jubilation at the gift of a bicycle (“Thank you, Canadian Tire!” she cried, throwing her arms wide) and moments of searing self-realization in a claustrophobic department store fitting room. 

Following its Gibsons appearances, the play continues at the Vancity Culture Lab in Vancouver with performances on Feb. 22, 23, 24 and 25. 

Talkback sessions following the Friday and Saturday performances were moderated by local impresario Wanda Nowicki, who singled out King’s acknowledgement of host Skwxwú7mesh territories as remarkably heartfelt. 

A noise in surround sound 

The Sunshine Coast Film Society will present a screening of Joan Baez: I am a Noise on Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse, and Thursday, March 7 at 2 p.m. at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt.  

This unconventional documentary is an honest and intimate behind-the-scenes examination of the history-making life (and 60-year career) of singer and activist Joan Baez. 

The movie draws on a lifelong store of previously unavailable documents, audio tapes, film footage and photos, revealing the darkness behind the light and the suffering behind the stardom. Audiences emerge with a deepened understanding and new perception of this storied performer.  

Membership is required for admission (18+). Memberships and tickets can be booked in advance online (www.scfs.ca) or with cash at the door. 

Ballet bravissimo 

Two Sunshine Coast dance studios are this week participating in the Chilliwack Festival of Music and Dance, which began on Feb. 17. 

By the halfway mark, dancers from Sechelt’s Waldorf Ballet had earned the title for first place contemporary group, a third-place finish for classical variation (honouring Annah Kotai), and a first-place finish plus the Carol Hart Award Trophy for a ballet duet by Isabella Watts and Audrey Altenburg (earning the distinction for the second year in a row).  

Waldorf dancers also netted a third-place finish in the category of ballet group en pointe, and a first-place award for Sophie Cimbala’s ballet solo. 

The Gibsons Dance Centre is also competing, with results from Chilliwack due to appear in next week’s Coast Reporter. Earlier the Gibsons studio participated in the Festival du Ballet, held last week in Surrey. 

At the Surrey event, Ella Hoath received High Gold for both her variation and interpretive ballet solos. She was awarded third overall in her level for her interpretive solo and also received a $1,000 scholarship. Nevaeh Power received High Gold for her variation and for her interpretive ballet solo. The ballet group received a judges’ choice award, and both Hoath and Power were invited to attend the festival’s gala to receive their awards. 

Gibsons dancer Peter Reznick received the highest marks at the festival for both his variation and interpretive solo, placing first overall in his level and receiving a judges’ choice award as well as two scholarships. He also performed at the gala closing, and was chosen as an intermediate representative at the provincial-level competition. 

Voices on the rise 

Three distinguished musicians — Marcus Mosely, Darlene Cooper and Bill Sample — are planning to offer a vocal workshop focused on the Gospel style. “Lift Every Voice” is a workshop scheduled for March 1 and 2 at High Beam Dreams in Gibsons that will explore the history and tradition of Gospel music, including spirituals, blues, folk, jazz, and funk.  

Participants will learn four to six gospel-style songs during the workshop, learning by rote repetition instead of with musical scores. 

Tickets for the $90 workshop are available by contacting roxiemusic2017@gmail.com